Scottish pilot John Williams set four British records flying upwind in waves over Scotland on April 8, 2007. John was kind enough to write a flight report for us on this extraordinary flight.
I fell in love with the Antares when I first saw it, flew it, and started thinking about how its self-art capability and high-speed performance could help me get new things out of the Scottish Wave. On Easter Sunday, this was realized in the first ever 1000 km flight over Scotland, and in a significant increase in the British distance record, from 1020 km to 1141 km. A full description will appear in the August-September issue of “Sailplane and Gliding.” To be able to fly a 1000 km task over Scotland, new turning points and new explorations were necessary.
The flight went from my home airfield of Portmoak to Tongue on the northern coast, then south over the mountains to as close to Glasgow as the restricted area allowed. Then back north to the UK’s northernmost turning point (Achnabourin at 58deg 29.28N) before flying back home with a small detour to the southern border of Scotland. Lots of mountains, some salt water, and even some outdoor landing opportunities…. The sailor was perfect for the job.
According to the weather forecast, a weather front was supposed to arrive in the far north during the day, so I had to leave as early as weather conditions allowed. After that, I had to keep moving continuously (without taking too many risks and without getting too low over difficult terrain). The self launch was of course exactly when I wanted it.
I don’t know how much difference the new fuselage-tailplane transition makes, but there were several critical moments that day when I was very grateful for the Antares’ speed and glide performance. On the second leg I had to cross about 50 km of closed cloud cover with a crosswind of 50 knots. I can’t think of any other aircraft I would have preferred to fly in that situation. If I had reached the third turning point half an hour later, I would have been hopelessly surrounded by the frontal cloud.
The result was that I completed the declared 1000 km flight with an average of 132 km/h, which meant that I still had enough daylight left to fly another 200 km and thus increase the British distance record. Sometimes speed and performance are not so critical, but on this day it was absolutely necessary to achieve a number of goals before the weather no longer allowed it.
Oh, and after ten and a half hours in the cockpit I would have liked to sleep in it, but I urgently wanted to look at my log files. The comfort is great and makes it much easier for me to stay focused on a long flight task. Now can we please have a little more of this weather?